By Jim EllisSept. 21, 2021 — Saying he believes that former President Donald Trump “shouldn’t ever be president again,” sophomore Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) announced on Friday that he will not seek a third term in the House.
Rep. Gonzalez was one of 10 Republicans to support Trump’s second impeachment, and drew a strong Republican primary opponent as a result. Former President Trump responded to Gonzalez’s statement and decision with his own release saying, “1 down, 9 to go,” in reference to those Republican House members who supported removing him from office after the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.
Gonzalez is the 19th member who will not be on the next election ballot for the US House seat he now holds, including the three vacancies to be filled in special elections. Of the 19, Republicans currently hold 10 seats as compared to nine for the Democrats. This is the first GOP opening with some competitive potential, however, though the Gonzalez decision will likely have a big impact upon the Ohio redistricting process currently under way within the state legislature in Columbus.
Former White House aide Max Miller had been Rep. Gonzalez’s top Republican competitor. Through the June 30 campaign financial disclosure period, Miller had raised just under $1 million ($951,520), but had only $533,153 remaining in cash-on-hand.
Despite Miller’s strong fundraising effort, Rep. Gonzalez still held the upper hand, reporting $1.22 million raised with over $1.5 million in the bank. Therefore, while the Miller challenge appeared formidable, it was not a foregone conclusion that he would have denied Rep. Gonzalez re-nomination had the congressman decided to continue running.
Rep. Gonzalez’s 16th Congressional District begins in the Westlake area to the west of Cleveland and stretches south toward the rural areas southwest of Canton. It then meanders to the northeast around Akron to end in the city of Edinburg.
The 16th has been a reliable Republican seat, delivering Trump two victories, 56-42 percent in 2020 opposite President Joe Biden, and 56-39 percent in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was his opponent. Prior to Gonzalez winning the open seat 2018 race, former Congressman Jim Renacci (R) had represented the district for eight years before departing to run unsuccessfully for the US Senate.
We can now expect other potential candidates to come forward, but the field won’t gel until we see how the new redistricting map unfolds. Ohio loses a seat in reapportionment, and the biggest change as a result could come in the Cleveland-Akron-East Ohio region.
It was believed before the Gonzalez announcement, and is still likely the case, that Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-Warren/Youngstown) 13th CD would be the district collapsed. Several reasons support this premise, one of which was that Ryan, who is running for the Senate in 2020, was until Friday the only member of the delegation not seeking re-election. Gonzalez, whose district is also part of that particular geographic area and needs to add 47,520 people to meet the new Ohio congressional district population quota, creates a new open seat that could significantly change the redistricting equation for the Cleveland-Akron-East Ohio region.
Since the Gonzalez retirement decision is a surprise, it may be some time before we see the proposed Ohio congressional plan. Once the map becomes public, it will be possible to make a political determination as to how this particular geographic region, and the state as a whole, will be affected. Chances are, however, that the Ryan seat will still be the one collapsed, but the Gonzalez opening likely gives the map drawers greater leeway as to how the rest of the region will be constructed.
Gonzalez is 37 years old. Before coming to Congress, he played five seasons in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts. He ended his football career in 2012 as a practice squad member for the New England Patriots. The congressman was the Colts’ first-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft, after being a star wide receiver for Ohio State University.